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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) operations, focusing on: (1) patent pendency; (2) PTO allocation of resources among its patent and trademark processes, dissemination of information, and executive direction and administration; and (3) a comparison of PTO workload and examination processes with those of other industrialized nations.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce 1. To improve the information on patent pendency for use by applicants, PTO, and decisionmakers, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Assistant Secretary of Commence and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks to compute and report patent pendency statistics that will separately identify issued patents, abandoned applications, and applications still under examination. These statistics should: (1) be further divided by examination group; (2) allow for comparisons of pendency using both the original and most recent application filing dates; and (3) separate the examination time attributable to both PTO and the applicant.
Closed - Implemented
PTO now reports patent pendency statistics separately for issued patents, abandoned applications, and applications still under examination. PTO also reports the pendency of applications from original filing date and from the most recent filing date. However, because PTO has reorganized its group structure to industry sectors, it reports patent pendency by industry rather than by examination group. PTO now reports cycle time (the amount of time PTO actually spends on the examination) by industry sector.

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